Structural Family Therapy

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Structural Family Therapy

The theory and therapeutic model dev by Minuchin, which focuses on family organization & boundaries & the ways in which these structures govern interactional patterns. DYSFUNCTION, in this model stems from BOUNDARIES too RIGID or too DIFFUSE, both of which prevent the system and its subsystems from achieving its goals.

Structure

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A concept/term...
The interrelationship amoung system elements that make up the organization of the system. In first order change, structures can be affected w/o altering the organization of the system; whereas, in second order change the organization's rules and structure are changed.

Accomodation

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A variety of engagement techniques...
such as joining, in which the therapist adapts him/herself to the family's style of interacting.

Mapping the System

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
An assessment technique...aka
(structural map) used to depict a family's organization and gain an understanding of its complex structures and sequences (eg traingles, coalitions, emo cut-offs).

Perspective Change

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A term...the process by which elements of a system are TRANSFORMED to NEW STATES OR levels of ORGANIZATION.

Subsystem

In Structural Family Therapy,
Minuchin
A term...
an organized component of a system which has a specific role in the functioning of the larger system and is somewhat autonomous from it, ie; a parental or sibling subsystem.

Developmental System Change

In Dev Psych/Systems Theory
A term...
The transition of the family from one stage of dev to another in the family life cycle.

Discontinuous Change

Strategic Family Therapy
Hailey and Madanes
A concept/term...
SUDDEN change resulting from shifts in BELIEFS.

Continuous Change

Structural Family Therapy-Minuchin
Transgenerational models;
A term...
Change occuring through a gradual learning process.

Distancing

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A concept/term...
The process of creating emo space, often in response to enmeshment d/t diffuse boundaries. ie; adolescents may distance themselves as a way of solidifying an id.

Intensity

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A therapeutic stance/technique...
in which the therapist regulates the degree of impact of his/her messages. Intensity can be regulated, for ie; by increasing the length of transaction or repeating the message. Tone, pacing, and volume are the tools of intensity.

Parentified Child

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A term for...
A role set of behaviors, and placement in a family sequence which stems from the FUNCTIONAL REMOVAL OF A CHILD FROM THE SIBLING SUBSYSTEM. A parentified child differs from a child w/ healthy responsibilities when that 1) child's parental responsibilities are POORLY DEFINED and therfore, unlimited and are 2) BEYOND the scope of the child's DEV capabilities. Such children BECOME SXS-MATIC when they cannot handle or perform a responsibility they are given. Ie; a 17 y/o girl functions as the family's head when her mother sits uninvolved in the corner of the room.

Tracking

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
An engagement technique...
in which the therapist participates in the family dynamic, while privately noting the dysfunctional or unbalanced processes being enacted. The therapist must assume the median position-paying attn to him/herself while engaging w/ the family.

Boundary

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A concept/term....
Hypothetical dividers bw or amoung subsytems w/i the family or bw systems. They are defined SPATIALLY by the ways members ALLIGN w/ one another. They are set by the implicit or explicit RULES concerning WHO participates in WHICH subsystem and in WHAT manner. Boundaries and the subsytems they define MAY CHANGE over time and w/ variable circumstances. In SFT, boundaries are described as CLEAR, RIGID, or DIFFUSE.

Closed System

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A concept/term....
A self-contained system w/ impermeable boundaries which resists change and operates w/ minimal interactions w/ its outside environment, thereby increasing its dysfunction.

Disengagement

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A concept/term....
Emotionally distant and uninvolved family members w/ overly rigid boundaries in which members are isolated and disconnected from one another.

Diffuse Boundaries

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A concept/term....
Boundaries that are not clearly defined or maintained, resulting in blurred generational roles and responsibilities. Diffuse boundaries often lead to enmeshed relationships.

Unbalancing

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A technique... designed to disrupt a dysfunctional sequence by lending greater support to one side of a conflcit than the other.

Enmeshment

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A concept/term....
A loss of autonomy d/t diffuse boundaries, resulting in familiy members being overly involved in one another's emotional lives.

Cross Generational Coalition

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A term....
Describes a stable coalition bw a parent & child against the other parent.

Probing

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A technique...
in which the therapist asks questions and/or makes provocative comments designed to evoke responses which help to obtain info about how the family operates. Even failure to obtain the family's cooperation provides info about their boundaries.

Boundary Interface

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A term...
Points at which the boundary from one system or subsytem meets the boundaries of other subsystems or the environment.
In Family Systems Therapy; aka the Familial Boundary.

Mimesis

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A joining technique...in which the therapist gains acceptance by mimicking the gestures, communication, and behavioral patterns of family members.

Joining

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
An engagement technique...
in which the therapist accepts & accomodates to the family & engages w/ each family member. The goal of joining is to establish a trusting & familiar connection w/ the family so that the therapist can effect changes from w/i the system.

Personal Map

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A term...
A conception of interpersonal reality that a person uses to make sense of the world.

Cognitive Maps

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A concept/term...
Mental models by which incoming info is perceived, understood, transformed, and stored, together w/ a corresponding repertoire of behavioral options.
Maps are based upon integration of experiences. Eash part of the cognitive map-ie input and output-forms the individual's internal representation of reality. Cognitive maps shape actions and communication. They may be flexable, able to change & expand cumlatively w/ new info and experiences, or they may be rigid & limiting. Maps have both language and spatial aspects w/ a private voc & imagery that determines how incoming communication is interpreted.

Coalitions

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A concept/term...in which two family members form a COVERT alliance, either temporary or durable, against a third. Coalitions usually form across generational boundaries, ie bw one parents & child against the other parent or against another child. Coalitions create power blocks in families, which serve either to balance another coalition or establish control.

Alliance

1.Structural Family Therapy -Minuchin
& Strategic Family Therapy- Hailey/Madanes
A concept/term...
a bond or affiliation bw two or more family members. Alliances differ from coalitions in that they are generally w/i a subsytem and NOT HIDDEN.
2. Domestic Violence
A term...
refering to the redemptive phase of the abuse cycle, in which the perpetrator promises never to act violently again and the victim agress to participate in that goal.

Detouring

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A concept/term...
when two family members attempt to preserve their relationship by defining their conflict as a disagreement about a third person, keeping the focus on that person rather than themselves and their problem.

Shaping Competence

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A method...
of increasing family members' confidence in being able to solve their problems by pointing out what they have down right, rather than focusing on their mistakes.

Boundary Making

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A technique...
in which the therapist establishes a functional semi-permeable (clear) boundary where either a rigid or diffuse boundary had existed previously.

Enactment

Structural Family Therapy
Minuchin
A technique...
used both in assessment and tx of families. Members are instructed to demonstrate their problem during the therapy session, allowing the therapist to observe the problem and deveop strategies to change it.

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